When I was twenty-one, I decided that I was tired of having low self-esteem. I decided that I was not going to have it any more.
I started looking at the beautiful clothing in fashion magazines rather than the unobtainable figures. I stopped counting calories and started to make note of all of the things that my body could do. I made a conscious effort to recognise negative thought patterns and replace them with something positive about myself.
It worked. I began to feel tiny benefits almost immediately. It didn’t take long for me to feel quite a bit better about myself.
In fact, it may have worked a little too well.
There are a lot of things that I like about me. There’s the physical: what-colour-are-they eyes, pointy little chin, mad hair, the ability to carry twins to term without so much as a sore muscle. I have a pleasant body. All of my wobbles make for a comforting hold. The texture of my post-twins belly is interesting – it’s kind of wrinkled and I don’t mind it.
I’m fond of my personality, too – of who I am. I’m a good person. I’d like to be my friend.
And I’m unapologetic about that.
I’m so happy these days. When I remember those miserable earlier years, the sheer mortification out shopping in case anybody assumed that I was arrogant and deluded enough to think that I would look nice in new clothing, I feel horrified at how awful life was back then.
I had no idea that I had low self-esteem. I just thought that I had a balanced view of a dreadful person.
Sometimes I get the impression that it’s not desirable for a woman to think highly of herself, that self-deprecation should be the status quo for a woman. I wonder why. Do men constantly strive for self-improvement in the way that we do? Genuine question. I don’t remember fighting over the bathroom with my only ever former boyfriend, or watching him angst over his appearance and interactions in the way that my female friends do.
Aren’t we worth more than this? Aren’t you?
I bloody well am.
I’m marvellous. I’m the product of millions of years worth of sperm meeting eggs and implanting and successfully being delivered into the world and surviving to reproduce. Isn’t that miraculous? I refuse to feel apologetic about my existence.
Sometimes I feel as though it’s a fun club from which I’ve deliberately included myself. Sometimes I catch people whom I respect discussing their perceived flaws and it seems like fun. Sometimes I think that it would be so easy to join in, to find something about myself to rip apart with these people. But why should I? Why can’t we chat about what we like about each other?
My own mother openly admits that if she were wealthy, she would employ a plastic surgeon to ‘start at (her) toes and work his way up’.
Isn’t that horrifying? I’m horrified.
I don’t want my boys to see the world like that. I don’t want them to see self-denigration as the norm. I don’t want them to expect their future partners to indulge in these strange, harmful thoughts and behaviours.
If they become fathers, and I hope that they do, I hope that they will not expect the mothers of their children to look exactly the same, feel exactly the same. I hope that they will find the post-childbirth body to be womanly, even beautiful. Because it is. Well – mine is. And I bet that yours is too.
And I bet that you’re rather marvellous, actually.
Because you’re a product of millions of years worth of sperm meeting eggs and implanting and successfully being delivered into the world and surviving to reproduce, too.
And you’re lovable, too. And you can pull off that skirt, don’t worry. And even if you can’t, who really cares? It’s a great colour. And you have a great smile. Who would notice the skirt anyway when you turn on that smile?
And even if you don’t have a great smile, what does it matter? You’re alive. That in itself is no small miracle. And it’s going by in a flash.
Be happy. Allow yourself to be happy. Teach yourself to be happy.
You’re worth it, I promise.